Sean P Drysdale lives in Calgary between the overt beauty of the Canadian Rockies and the serenity of the prairies. He returned to photography as an art form in 2016. Drysdale graduated from Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1984, where he studied photography. Subsequent studies in mathematics and computers at Simon Fraser University led to a career in information management.
Exhibitions and Organizing
- Graduation Group Show; Emily Carr College of Art and Design; Vancouver; 1984
- Member of Organizing Committee; The Warehouse Show; Vancouver; 1984
- Solo Photography Show; OR Gallery; Vancouver; 1983
Project Statement: Roadside Attractions
I love this land and I love exploring it photographically. Roadside Attractions is an umbrella project that captures different visual and conceptual perspectives, which continue to evolve from my experiences of driving local paved and gravel roads. Those paths usually take me east onto the prairies versus west into the mountains. Besides the sense of hope that comes from a big sky, there is a graphic cleanliness to the prairies and foothills. Under shifting light, forms and subtle variations in the landscape become visually significant, and beg for quiet appreciation.
As a business analyst, I synthesize information from disparate sources and then produce documents that have value to my clients. That same activity also touches Roadside Attractions. Some of the sources informing this project are as follows:
- Eadweard Muybridge was paid $25,000 in 1878 by Leland Stanford to help Stanford win a bet that a galloping horse has at some point, all four hooves off the ground. Ever since then, the series has been near and dear to photography.
- Hilla and Bernd Becher, founders of the Dusseldorf School of Photography, proposed, practiced, and taught a rigorous approach to photography that valued technical excellence and objectivity. The Becher’s collection of fading industrial artifacts may not be instantly captivating, but time spent with those photos is ever so gratifying. I find that much of the work of the Dusseldorf school has a melancholy quality, which is not always to my taste. On the other hand, I appreciate the problematic struggle for objectivity.
- Edward Burtynsky has spoken about being influenced by painters. I also think he has some heritage in the Dusseldorf school. I have long been drawn to the conflict between beauty and subject matter in his work.
- The flick and click of Instagram epitomize our fleeting attention span. As a response, I strive for the antithesis of that experience. One of my photographic objectives is to first capture a viewer’s attention through an expression of beauty, and then provide enough depth of content to reward the patient viewer.
Series Statement Within Project: Sentinels
“Sentinels” is a series under the Roadside Attractions umbrella. Across the foothills and prairies , hay bales stand alone. I now call these guardians muffets. Like cows, they make me smile. Grain bins are my new anchors for a long running interest in limits.
Series Statement Within Project: The Thin Line
“The Thin Line” is a series under the Roadside Attractions umbrella. In this series I am, in part, probing my set of conflicting responses to the environment. The prairie landscape evokes a wonderful sense of space. Yet, the land I drive through and my experience of that land is defined and confined by a grid of evenly spaced roads, symbols of ownership, and signs of control.
Series Statement Within Project: On The Verge
“On the Verge” is a series under the Roadside Attractions umbrella. In this series I am, in part, probing a long running interest in randomness, and the application of structure and story where they may not exist. After my first experiments in this series I concluded that it would be immoral not to pick up the plastic. I have also come to appreciate that walking along various verges with tripod, camera, gloves, and a garbage bag helps to accentuate the ephemeral nature of these particular images and photography in general.